Sports Illustrated revamps digital offerings
Sports Illustrated on Tuesday will introduce a reconstructed website for both desktop and mobile platforms, the latest and perhaps most dramatic step in a digitally focused transformation of the sports media brand.
The tile-based system, nearly a year in development, expands on design concepts that debuted last year with the launch of Peter King’s TheMMQB.com, and continued with other new SI products such as SI Edge and Planet Futbol. The new format allows for substantial flexibility based on news events and editorial direction, and will freely incorporate text, photos, video and audio through a completely rebuilt content management system. A responsive design, steadily becoming more common in digital sports media, allows for a unified template that automatically rescales based on the size of the screen.
|The tile-based system allows for more flexibility across all platforms.
The redesign brings two other substantial changes in the SI operation. Both the mobile and desktop sites will operate under the core Sports Illustrated brand name as it de-emphasizes the SI.com brand and seeks to present itself as a single content operation that operates across all platforms. The company has also partnered with California-based TopLine Game Labs to create a daily fantasy game for baseball and football that will make its debut June 30.
Sports Illustrated has not been a significant player in the fantasy sports industry for several years, but through this effort the company seeks to capitalize on one of the fastest-growing segments of the space. In doing so, it is also resurrecting the FanNation brand it purchased in 2007 but that has laid essentially dormant in recent years. The FanNation daily fantasy game will be available in both free and pay formats.
“Increasingly, fans want to play on mobile and in these quicker, daily formats, and that’s where we’re placing our energies for fantasy,” Fichtenbaum said.
The SI digital relaunch will also incorporate the forthcoming 120 Sports digital operation, of which SI is a core partner. Tiles within the new site will feature video from the short-form digital network, which also includes MLB Advanced Media, the NHL and Silver Chalice.
Launch sponsors will be Canon, Black Rock and New Balance. Company executives, led by Publisher Brendan Ripp, will undertake a two-week roadshow in late July to pitch the new platform to current and prospective advertisers.
Leading the redesign effort has been Jim DeLorenzo, SI Digital vice president and general manager. DeLorenzo brought on more than a dozen additional programmers and coders to assist with the project and subsequent operations, part of a recent overall staffing increase that is approaching 40 when including editorial, sales and other departments.
“We’ve taken a really hard look at not only what our users want but how we operate internally, even down to where people on our team sit and work together,” DeLorenzo said. “It’s taken us a while to get to this point, but we think we have something optimized for us internally and [that] connects deeply with how fans now consume content.”